The summer break is on the horizon! This is great news for folks who are ready to slow down and have a more leisurely pace over the next few months. At the same time we are trying to relax and recharge, we want to make sure our children don’t become a victim of summer learning loss.
Karl Alexander has conducted research at Johns Hopkins University related to summer learning loss. He found that the learning loss in low-income children is cumulative throughout elementary school. In fact, his findings show by 9th grade, learning loss accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between these children and better-off students.
So, what are some things parents can do so to stop this slide from happening?
1. Discuss some goals.
It will be helpful to have a conversation with your child to include them in the idea that summer is a time for slowing down, but it is also a time to stay sharp. Do they want to read a particular novel by the end of the month? Is there a math goal they can set so they can hit the ground running in August? Set the goal and then break it into realistic pieces for your child so it is not a chore or overwhelming. The goal itself doesn’t matter as much as the effort the child uses to achieve it!
2. Go to the library.
The public library is a wonderful source of FREE texts for children and they also have resources for families. Many times, you can go to the public library website and get book lists by grade level, storytimes, and information on summer special events. These have already been organized for you and are easy on the pocketbook!
3. Research something.
Many of us have more time in the summer than other months of the year. Now is the time to research some idea, location, animal, event, etc. that is a natural source of curiosity. Make sure your child knows what internet sites are approved by you, and turn them loose to gather more information about their topic. If you are vacationing, this is the perfect foundation for questions or research. They don’t have to write a paper or create a poster…just have them tell you what they found out!
4. Read newspapers and magazines
Newspapers and magazines offer a variety of rare words and mirror real world reading. This is very important! As most teachers will tell you, the Common Core curriculum that will be in place in the fall requires students to read a variety of non-fiction texts. Reading magazines and newspapers over the summer is a perfect way to bridge this!
These are just a few ideas to get you started on maintaining summer learning. The idea is to take some time each day to engage children in some purposeful thinking of some kind. Then TALK to them about it. Ask them what they read, what they learned or what they are wondering about. Before you know it, the summer will be slipping away and you can celebrate achieving the goals you set in June!